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Building a playhouse and picking up trash help Aberdeen mayor relieve stress

What three things you might not know about Aberdeen mayor Patrick McGrady.
What three things you might not know about Aberdeen mayor Patrick McGrady. (Kenneth K. Lam)

Constituents call him “kid” less than when Patrick McGrady became mayor of Aberdeen in 2015. Then 29, he was a fresh-faced newcomer with a youthful cross to bear.

“The challenge I had [during the campaign] was banging on doors with not a gray hair on my head,” said McGrady. Yet townspeople weighed his resume — native son, Penn State graduate and linchpin in his family’s property management and development business — and voted him in.

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Here are three things you might like to know about McGrady:

Staying focused.

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“Last year, I was diagnosed with ADHD [attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder]. I’d never had problems in school because I have a really good memory. But, as an adult, I struggle with sitting still and focusing on paperwork.

“Recognizing my weakness has been a good thing. It allows me to free myself up and to delegate those tasks that I’m not really good at. I thought I was bulletproof, but this has humbled me significantly and made me more sensitive to the stuff going on in others’ lives that I’ll never understand, and how I need to be more patient with that.”

Gathering garbage is a pick-me-up.

“When I get stressed and feel like i’m not making an impact on the world, when I feel everything is stacked against me and there is nothing I can do to make it different, I try to do something real: I pick up trash. I’ll scoop up litter on the walk from my house to the office. It’s something that physically changes the world, and it’s very cathartic for me.”

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He built a not-so-pee-wee playhouse.

“When the pandemic hit, my wife said, ‘How can we get these [three] kids out of the house? So I built them a playhouse. It’s 8-by-16 feet and sits five feet off the ground. It has a rock wall to enter and a slide to exit. I have a multiyear plan to make additions; a loft is next.

“I didn’t ask if I needed a permit to build it so, for awhile, anytime someone from the city drove by, I got nervous. Turns out I didn’t need one.”

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